Big Investors Emerge

As Big Investors Emerge, Bitcoin Gets Ready for Its Close-Up

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have been many things in a short time: Olympic rowers. Nemeses of Mark Zuckerberg. Characters on “The Simpsons.” Now they can add a new label: bitcoin moguls.

The 31-year-old identical twins have amassed since last summer what appears to be one of the single largest portfolios of the online currency that has caused such a stir in financial and technology circles.

An array of speculators have now bid up the price of the bitcoin to the point where the outstanding supply of the digital money was worth $1.3 billion at last count. The Winklevii — as they are popularly known — say they own nearly 1 percent of that, or some $11 million.

The decision by the brothers to go public with their position signals a new stage for what has been an experimental alternative to national currencies. Created in 2009 by a programmer or programmers known only by a pseudonym, the bitcoin world has been dominated by anonymous programmers and traders.

Now mainstream investments in the digital money are starting to emerge. On Thursday, a group of venture capitalists, including Andreessen Horowitz, announced that they were funding a bitcoin-related company, OpenCoin.

Other Silicon Valley venture firms, while not holding bitcoins, are starting to show interest in the technology. Tim Draper of the firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson put money into CoinLab, which is doing bitcoin-related projects. Tribeca Venture Partners announced this week that it was putting money into Coinsetter, a start-up trading platform for the currency.